What is GDP?

GDP (Gross domestic product): what you should know.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is an economic measure showing the value of all final goods and services produced in a country. The market value is usually determined on a yearly basis. Specialists calculate the services value in different economic spheres of a certain state. This macroeconomic indicator does not depend on where the used resources are from.

Calculation methods

To calculate GDP correctly, all goods and services produced for a certain year should be taken into account without double counting. That is why only final goods and products are mentioned in the GDP definition.

If intermediate goods, which are used for production of other goods, are included in GDP, the GDP value will be overestimated.

GDP is determined as a monetary estimate of final goods and services produced over a year; spending of all economic subjects on final products should be added together.

To calculate GDP based on spending or spillover benefits, the following values should be added:

  • private consumption (C);
  • gross private investments in national economy (I);
  • government spending on final goods and services (G);
  • net exports, exports minus imports (NX).
GDP = C + I + G + NX

GDP per capita

GDP (at purchasing power parity) per capita is a more accurate value reflecting a country's economic development and growth. For comparison purposes, all indicators are expressed in US dollars.

GDP deflator

The gross domestic product deflator is a price indicator for measuring the general price level of goods and services for a certain period of time in an economy. It is calculated as the Paasche index and is expressed in percent.

The GDP deflator is the ratio of the nominal GDP expressed in market prices of the current year to the real GDP expressed in prices of the base year.

GDP deflator = (∑ (Qt × Pt) / ∑ (Qt × P0)) × 100%


  • Qt - production volume of the given period;
  • Pt - price in the given period;
  • P0 - price in the base year.

Nominal and real GDP

The nominal GDP is GDP calculated in current prices, which are the prices of the current year. The nominal GDP is influenced by two factors:

  • change in real production volume;
  • change in prices.

To find out the real GDP, changes in price levels should be excluded from the nominal GDP.

The real GDP is GDP measured in compatible (fixed) prices, which are the prices of the base year. The base year can be any year before or after the current one.

Lists of countries by GDP

Countries are sorted into a list by GDP at purchasing power parity. The calculations are made by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. According to the IMF, in 2014-2016, the first six places were taken by China (17.71%), the United States (15.50%), India (7.24%), Japan (4.35%), Germany (3.33%), and Russia (3.21%). As the US dollar is not a fixed value and there is no single calculation method for purchasing power parity, GDP estimate may vary in different financial institutions.

Lists of countries by GDP

US GDP structure

US GDP structure
It is believed that the United States produce a lot of goods and therefore has the strongest economy, however, this is not true. Supporters of this theory confuse the US with China, where the main part of GDP is made up by exports. However, the US economy has the following structure:
  • services - 78%;
  • production - 21%;
  • agriculture - 1%.

US GDP structure

Chinese GDP structure

Chinese GDP structure
China has been taking the second place in the world by nominal GDP and the first place by GDP PPP since 2014.
The Chinese economy has been growing for the last 30 years.
At the beginning of the 21 century, the People's Republic of China is a global industrial superpower by the rates of production; it is also a space and nuclear superpower as the country takes leading positions by production of coal and wood as well as iron, manganese, zinc-lead, antimony, and tungsten ores.
The services and production spheres make up almost the same parts of the country's GDP. However, the services sector has been expanding at a faster rate in the recent years.
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